Song: “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers
Reached #1: October 14, 1957 (their first, 6 weeks, Best Seller chart)
Previously: Day 144
It sounds like a classic sitcom plot, right? Young couple goes to the drive-in, falls asleep because the movie was boring, wake up at 4:00 am, and hilarity ensues…
…in 1957, this was Srs Bsns [“serious business” for the meme-challenged]. The slightest hint that Susie and the singer-character might have… *gasp*… had sex… got the song banned in some cities.
Now it’s not like America is any less prudish these days. Nope, it’s just harder to keep content down thanks to the Internet. In 1957, if radio stations decided not to play a song, it was tough to get any attention at all – of course, the Everlys did get on TV (the clip is from the Ed Sullivan Show), but it’s actually kind of a surprise that a song that got banned anywhere made it to #1.
Of course, the song resonated with its intended audience – both for the story and the subtext.
It also resonated with two kids in New York – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who’ve said that the Everlys were one of their early influences. Simon & Garfunkel took their “Live in Central Park” cover of “Wake Up Little Susie” to the middle of the Billboard Top 40 in 1981, and did the song with the Everly Brothers in concert on their joint 2003-04 “Old Friends” tour.
Tomorrow, one of the more popular (at the time) and infamous (ever since) #1s ever.
Other songs that reached #1 on October 14:
1972 – “Ben” by Michael Jackson (his first, 1 week)
2000 – “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)” by Christina Aguilera (her third, 4 weeks)